Shoni Schimmel scored 18 points.
Jan. 28, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Asia Taylor scored 12 of her season-high 14 points in the second half and No. 16 Louisville held off Villanova 62-58 on Saturday. Shoni Schimmel scored 18 points and Bria Smith added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Cardinals (17-4, 6-2 BIG EAST).
Louisville trailed 38-32 with 11:30 left before going on a 15-6 run to take a three-point lead. The Wildcats (13-8, 3-5) regained a 48-47 advantage on Devon Kane's two free throws with 4:18 left.
Taylor, who was starting for the first time in five games, put Louisville ahead for good with a jumper 20 seconds later. She was fouled on the next possession and converted both free throws.
Louisville converted its final eight free throws to seal the victory. Laura Sweeney had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Wildcats, her seventh double-double of the season.
Taylor tacked on nine rebounds and two assists, all in the second half, to her season-high point total.
"I just came out trying to be aggressive," Taylor said. "I've been working extra, as much as I can, just working on my game."
Schimmel said the junior forward had an impact in every facet of Louisville's win. "She did it all," Schimmel said. "She rebounded. She shot her free throws good and she played defense."
Cardinals coach Jeff Walz said Villanova's perimeter-oriented motion offense presented a matchup problem for center Cierra Warren, whom he called his "best offensive post player." Warren played just 2 minutes, making Taylor's productive 20-minute outing all the more important.
"Asia's starting to understand what she can do, and she's doing it well," Walz said. "It was a game where we needed her to play like she did."
The Cardinals held off a late rally from Villanova. Schimmel hit two free throws with 21 seconds left to give Louisville a 58-52 lead, but the Wildcats quickly responded with a 3 from Lindsay Kimmel 7 seconds later.
Schimmel was then fouled, hitting both free throws to give Louisville a 60-55 edge with 11 seconds to play. Kimmel again sank a 3-pointer, this time from the right corner with 5 seconds left, to cut the Louisville lead to two.
Becky Burke hit her free throws after being fouled on the inbounds play to give Louisville its final four-point margin, but not before Megan Pearson's shot from half court rattled out to end the game.
Taylor said converting from the line to close out the game was critical. "On a team like that that hits 3s a lot, every point we make matters," she said. Villanova hit eight of its 30 3-point attempts.
The teams were tied at 21 going into the break, as neither team scored in the final 5:09 of the first half.
Louisville has lost two of its top three returning scorers in junior guard Tia Gibbs and senior center Monique Reid to season-ending injuries but now sits in sole possession of fourth place in the BIG EAST with the victory.
"It's a big win, there's no question about that," Walz said. "Especially with Tia and Mo out now, every game's a grind for us."
Louisville remains unbeaten in nine games at home this season and travels to DePaul and West Virginia before returning to face No. 3 Connecticut on Feb. 7.